Among the recent presidential actions on immigration are provisions to modernize, improve and clarify immigrant and nonimmigrant programs to grow our economy and create jobs – with the greatest economic impact affecting U.S. businesses, foreign investors, researchers, inventors and skilled foreign workers.
While specifics won’t be known about changes to economic oriented immigration policy until the guidance and regulations are issued, the effect of changes in the regulations impacting foreign students will be primarily among F1 visa holders. For foreign students specifically, further expansion and extension of optional practical training (OPT) is being proposed which could open the door to great opportunity for both students and employers alike. The next step in this process is for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to develop regulations for notice and public comment on the changes. No timeline for this process has yet been established.
What this means for international students interested in staying in the US after graduation for experiential education could be profound, likely further extending the current 17 month STEM extension period, as well as the expanding the designated degree programs that qualify. Currently, certain students who graduate with a STEM degree are eligible to remain in the United States for an additional 17 months (beyond the standard 12 months) on an optional practical training (OPT) STEM extension. Students may qualify for an additional 17 months of OPT under the following circumstances:
- Your degree for your current period of post-completion OPT is a bachelor’s, master’s or doctoral degree in a STEM program listed on the Department of Homeland Security’s STEM designated degree program list
- The employer from which you are seeking work uses the E-Verify Program
- You have not already received a 17-month extension of OPT
Approximately 10,000 students are currently working in Michigan on OPT, and over 29,000 international students are studying in Michigan colleges and universities. The purpose of the presidential actions relative to STEM expansion/extension is clear – to further open a pathway to experiential employment in the United States for talented foreign students to lessen the talent shortages so widely reported by employers, while improving the Michigan and national economies.
What can you do as a student? Prepare. Begin by completing a Free profile of yourself on the GTRI GOregistry, and make certain that you have a current “American styled” resume for employers to review.
What can you do as an employer? Prepare. Apply to GTRI to become a Global Opportunity Employer, GOemployer, and consider participating as an employer in the GOregistry for unlimited access to skilled global talent waiting to hear from you. To learn more about the GOregistry please contact Jeff at GTRI at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 517-290-0853.